Cooler times ahead: indicators show deepening La Niña

As shown by the indicators on WUWT’s new ENSO/SST page there is a deeping of the La Niña that is starting to rival 2008 in depth. While it hasn’t yet reached the level of the 2008 event, indications are that it is possible to match or even exceed it.

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/monitoring/nino3_4.png

The graph above from Australia’s BoM took a dip just today, going from last week’s value of approximately -0.9 to -1.4C.

Other NINO index indicators show similar recent drops:

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/monitoring/nino1.png

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/monitoring/nino2.png

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/monitoring/nino3.png

For those unfamiliar with what these index graphics represent, here is a map that shows the regions covered:

The combined 3.4 index has been deemed a useful metric to gauge El Niño and La Niña events and thus you’ll see it more commonly referenced than the other indices.

Of course a picture is worth a thousand words:

http://www.osdpd.noaa.gov/data/sst/anomaly/anomnight.current.gif

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Ralph

As a complete beginner with sea temperatures – where does the warm water go during a La Nina?
I has not cooled, as that would take longer than this.
It cannot sink, as it is warm.
Has it just moved north, rather like an equatorial hurricane, which drifts north as it turns into an Atlantic depression and eventually dissipates?

Scarlet Pumpernickel

That Sumatran volcanoes could really go off in the next few months, adding to the cold 😛

There has been talk of La Nina 3.4 SST going as long as -3 by November 2010 (if I remember correctly from Joe Bastardi). SST anomaly map already shows some areas within this range;
http://weather.unisys.com/surface/sst_anom.gif

Stephen Wilde

We certainly now see more of a bias towards La Nina than we did in the late 20th century.
This will be the first period when we can observe in enough detail to disentangle the seperate global implications of each mode of the Pacific Oscillations for the air cicrculation systems.
Additionally the early 21st Century is already the first period when we can observe in enough detail to disentangle the seperate effects on the Polar Oscillations (and consequently all the air circulation systems) of different levels of solar activity.
I think we are going to see just how independent those oceanic and solar influences can each be.
I recommend that we watch how the air circulation systems move poleward or equatorward depending on which influence is the more dominant at any given time.
The oceans may be more powerful but the level of solar activity working via the polar oscillations seems to set limits on the oceanic effects as regards how far poleward the oceanic influences can push the air circulation systems.

Brad

Doesn’t La Nina bring warm winters to the U.S.?

Brad says:
August 31, 2010 at 3:43 am

Doesn’t La Nina bring warm winters to the U.S.?

There is a graphic on the new:
ENSO/Sea Level/Sea Surface Temperature Page
http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/ensosea-levelsea-surface-temperature-page/
Which is titled: Reference for El Niño and La Niña weather pattern effects
The graphic illustrates general patterns associated with El Niño and La Niña.

Ralph says:
August 31, 2010 at 3:16 am
As a complete beginner with sea temperatures – where does the warm water go during a La Nina?

Actually Ralph the warm water isn’t there anymore, that was what El Nino was. The best place I found on the Web to have SST’s, Enso, PDO and other phenomena explained is to visit Bob Tisdales site. It is almost exclusively dedicated to the way the Oceans interact with Climate and Weather. Example here is what you are looking for in a nutshell:

El Niño events are an important part of climate on Earth. They discharge heat from the tropical Pacific. Atmospheric circulation and ocean circulation then carry that heat poleward, where it can be more easily radiated into space. In doing so, El Niño events help to reduce the temperature difference between the tropics and the poles that would exist without them.
La Niña events are just as important because they recharge the heat that had been discharged during the El Niño before it. They accomplish this by reducing cloud cover over the tropical Pacific. During a La Niña, the strength of the Pacific trade winds rise above “Normal” conditions, which reduce cloud cover over the central and eastern tropical Pacific. The reduced cloud cover allows more downward shortwave radiation (visible light) to warm the tropical Pacific. The stronger-than-normal trade winds then push this water that has been warmed by the sun back to the Pacific Warm Pool and the Western Pacific.

http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/08/introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-part-1.html
So you see during El Nino the warm water heads north to be cooled off and La Nina is actually when it recharges. However I recommed you venture over to Bob’s site and read the full article and peruse his archives and you will get caught up on SST’s very quickly.

Casper

Hurry up folks, we have to collect some firewood before the winter 🙂
On the other hand it is interesting that during El Nino time there was a hard winter in Europe last year.

Patrick Davis

I can find no link however, MSM TV news broadcasts at least on channels 7 and 10 in Australia are reporting Sydney has just had its coldest winter in 12-13 years (Depending on the channel). It was interesting a weatherman on channel 7 was saying over the last several weeks that the “winters of old are back”, interesting.

I doubt it’s directly correlated with La Niña or the voclanoes but ice extent has Increased the last couple of days!

rbateman

Brad says:
August 31, 2010 at 3:43 am
Doesn’t La Nina bring warm winters to the U.S.?

It depends on exactly where that blocking High in the NE Pacific sits, and I imagine that the ‘Variable’ in the Polar Jet Stream is a monkey wrench too.

rbateman

What I am most impressed with, right now, is the general state of the Southern Oceans. They are genuinely quite cool and growing colder. From watching the motions, a lot of the cold water appears to be feeding up from Antarctica.

Bruce

The little girl is being most cooperative!

Ralph says: “As a complete beginner with sea temperatures – where does the warm water go during a La Nina?”
During a La Niña, the trade winds in the tropical Pacific renew and strengthen (they had weakened and reversed during the El Niño) and push the “leftover” warm water from the El Niño back to the western tropical Pacific. Ocean currents carry it north and south into the western North and South Pacific.
Ralph, you self-described yourself as “a complete beginner with sea temperatures.” I prepared the following Introduction to El Niño/La Niña for newcomers, so if you would, please let me know how and if I could improve it:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/08/introduction-to-enso-amo-and-pdo-part-1.html

twawki says: “There has been talk of La Nina 3.4 SST going as long as -3 by November 2010…”
The weekly NINO3.4 SST anomalies dropped below -1.5 deg C last week.
http://i37.tinypic.com/x3iscm.jpg
Right now they’re rivalling the levels of the 1988/89 La Nina which had the lowest values during the satellite era.
http://i38.tinypic.com/2u6lmv8.jpg
The graphs are from my Preliminary August 2010 SST Update:
http://bobtisdale.blogspot.com/2010/08/preliminary-august-2010-sst-anomaly.html

boballab (August 31, 2010 at 4:28 am): Thanks for the link and kind words.

Casper says: “Hurry up folks, we have to collect some firewood before the winter :)”
I’ve had to rake leaves already this summer, and I hate raking leaves (The electric motor on the leaf blower decided to start smoking after 2 minutes and that left 95% of the job to be done the old-fashioned way.)

A C Osborn

What is noticeable is how steep the drop is this year compared to 2008, does that mean that it is likely to go lower before pulling out of it’s nosedive?

Stephen Wilde

Hello Bob,
I’m trying to tease out the chicken and egg problem as regards the Trade Winds and SSTs.
I see that you take the view that the El Nino with it’s higher SSTs weakens the Trade Winds and the La Nina with it’s lower SSTs strengthens them.
I would say that the El Nino by expanding the tropical air masses pushes poleward the air circulation patterns that cause the Trade Winds so that they fade away whereas the La Nina by allowing the tropical air masses to contract again allows the air circulation systems that cause the Trade Winds to sink back equatorward so that theose winds resume once more.
I think both descriptions are consistent with your observations are they not ?

As expected this La Nina is on track, the northern hemisphere in parts can expect severe conditions this winter. The AAO is assisting the La Nina downtrend along with the general PDO state. The next PDO reading should be interesting.
The low solar output will compound these issues with the expected changes to the winter jet stream via low EUV. But there may be worse news to follow, a new type of sunspot that has emerged over the past 2 months that has a polarity reversing tendency actually reduces F10.7 Flux & EUV. Its early days but one metric to watch.
http://www.landscheidt.info/?q=node/196

Bill Illis

In the last few weeks, the source of cooler water for a La Nina, the subsurface circulation pattern shown in this graphic.
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/tropics/images/la.jpg
…. has cooled off even further. Generally, it is 3C to 9C below normal and will slowly make its way to the surface (and/or cool off the water at the surface) so this La Nina is now certain to cool off even further and become a large event.
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/weeklyenso/wkteq_xz.gif
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/ocean/anim/wkxzteq_anm.gif
There has never been a Super La Nina (more than -2.5C in the Nino 3.4 index, the largest was -2.24C) but this one now has the potential to get there. Expect the forecasts to reflect this cooling of the subsurface in the next forecasts.
Someone asked where does the warm water go during a La Nina? It piles up against the shallow Indonesian Islands at the equator to form the Pacific Warm Pool. Some of this warmer water then flows through the Islands into the Indian Ocean, some goes northwest towards Japan (and eventually warms up the north Pacific) AND some of it gets pushed downward, just north of New Guinea, to re-enter this subsurface circulation system where it is now forming the next El Nino for about 1 year from now (unless this La Nina gets big enough to form a 2 year event). One can now see this warm water from the last El Nino in the animations above. It is a continuous circulation that speeds up and slows down and moves around a little; in other words, an oscillation.

Dave Springer

Ralph says:
August 31, 2010 at 3:16 am
As a complete beginner with sea temperatures – where does the warm water go during a La Nina?

My theory is that abnormally warm water in the tropical Pacific ends up in the Arctic ocean where it appears to go into the latent heat of fusion in Arctic ice melt. It takes 144 BTUs to turn one pound of ice at 32F into one pound of water at 32F. A BTU is the amount of energy it takes to raise one pound of water by 1 degree F. Most interesting is that this heat is called “latent” because it doesn’t register on a thermometer so when we look at sea surface temperatures the warm water just disappears like magic with no thermometer able to find it. In the few years following the 1998 El Nino, which was one of the largest on record, the Arctic ice cap shrunk by 1 million square kilometers and has stayed shrunken by that amount since then.

MattN

2011 will be cooler then 2008….

Sorry off topic but just to wish you all the best Mr Watts.

As Joe Bastardi and Steven Goddard point out Arctic ice should grow substantially this winter. La Nina will help. I think there will not be as warm an Atlantic next summer as this summer. Which would slow Arctic ice loss next summer.
The earth is cooling now, slowly, but it is cooling. Climate has always changed. It is normal. Global warming is not happening. CO2 does not control climate.

DR

Global SST has not yet begun it’s plunge. It appears to be hovering in recent months with no indication from what I can ascertain will drop this month by any significant amount. Then again that is my amateur opinion. This El Nino is most interesting.

I just wanted to write about it, too. My preferred weekly report
http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/
(click on El Nino “status” in the right column) shows that the Nino 3.4 index dropped to -1.5 deg C. That’s already strong enough. Only twice since the 1980s, the 3-month average La Nina index dropped below -1.5: during the 1988/89 and 1999/2000 episodes.
Still, I am not quite sure whether even a “giant” La Nina will necessarily mean some unusual cooling. In particular, I still do expect 2010 to be 2nd (and maybe, less likely, even 1st) warmest year on the satellite record.

jorgekafkazar

“…During the El Niño phase, the trade winds first slow, then reverse. Since the trade winds are no longer “holding” the water in place in the western Pacific, gravity causes the warm water to slosh to the east….” [From Bob Tisdale’s site.]
But what causes the trade winds to slow and reverse? The Earth is still turning the same direction. What else has changed?

wsbriggs

My possibly really retarded question involves the apparently very, very cold upwelling about 20 N Long, 38 W Lat. What causes this, or is this an island artifact? Cape Verde, or ?

Gary Pearse

Patrick Davis says:
August 31, 2010 at 5:10 am
“I can find no link however, MSM TV news broadcasts at least on channels 7 and 10 in Australia are reporting Sydney has just had its coldest winter in 12-13 years ”
Not only the coldest winter but also the wetest across Australia. We don’t seem to be getting closer faster to the firy perpetual droughts we’ve been preparing for.
http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=Austalia%20coldes%20winter%20in%2012%20years&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA

Jorgekafkazar, this is the million dollar question. I read that minor changes in the time of the day, or planet rotation, cause it..

Stephen Wilde says: “I’m trying to tease out the chicken and egg problem as regards the Trade Winds and SSTs.”
I don’t believe you can tease out the chicken and egg problem. ENSO is a coupled ocean-atmosphere process. An increase in SST in the West Pacific Warm Pool increases convection and the strength of the trade winds, and an increase in the trade winds increases the temperature in the West Pacific Warm Pool and the convection.
You wrote, “I see that you take the view that the El Nino with it’s higher SSTs weakens the Trade Winds and the La Nina with it’s lower SSTs strengthens them.”
I don’t think I’ve ever written what you’ve written. I have written repeatedly that a weakening of the trade winds initiates the El Nino. And I have also written repeatedly that a strengthening of the trade winds lowers central and eastern Pacific SST anomalies. Here’s a graphic that might be helpful:
http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/ees/slides/climate/enso.gif
You wrote, “I would say that the El Nino by expanding the tropical air masses pushes poleward the air circulation patterns that cause the Trade Winds so that they fade away whereas the La Nina by allowing the tropical air masses to contract again allows the air circulation systems that cause the Trade Winds to sink back equatorward so that theose winds resume once more.”
And I will ask, as I normally do, what data do you have to support the expansion of tropical air masses? Without data, I cannot confirm your claims.

Richard M

While the La Niña formed over the last few months there was a strange heating of the atmosphere during July and first part of August. Before that it seemed the El Niño was waning. Any theories for why the “delay” occurred? The Icelandic volcano? The fast melting of Arctic ice? The lack of hurricanes?

CRS, Dr.P.H.

@Bob Tisdale says:
August 31, 2010 at 5:30 am
—–
Thank you, Bob! I don’t always admit my, errrrr, shortcomings as openly as did Ralph, and I’m sure many of us appreciate the links you provided! Quite amazing and powerful phenomena. Cheers, Chuck the DrPH

gary gulrud

Bob Tisdale says:
August 31, 2010 at 5:38 am
Nice synopsis, could portend coldening but best to wait for events to unfold.

gary gulrud

“I still do expect 2010 to be 2nd (and maybe, less likely, even 1st) warmest year on the satellite record.”
I am beginning to think this a testament to H2O greenhouse effect via increased cloudiness and humidity in Troposphere. On the flip side, oceans integrated less solar energy over the Modoki period.

Patrick Davis

“Gary Pearse says:
August 31, 2010 at 8:06 am
Not only the coldest winter but also the wetest across Australia. We don’t seem to be getting closer faster to the firy perpetual droughts we’ve been preparing for.
http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=Austalia%20coldes%20winter%20in%2012%20years&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA
Indeed that too. Lake Eyre “filling up” and many other water ways and “dry spots” getting mildly moist. Sort of a ~100 year event, which is, errrmm, normal for Aus.
In New South Wales, “authorities” are “back burning” upto about 35% more than last year. Well, last “summer” was a non-event for “summer” and bush fires. This summer, well, the goal posts have moved, haven’t they?

gary gulrud

Bill Illis says:
August 31, 2010 at 6:18 am
You’ve reduced the complexity for us, much obliged.

Bill Illis

I once wrote a post called “The Trade Winds Drive the ENSO” which provided a pretty compelling case that the Winds and the ENSO are strongly linked.
I also noted that I wasn’t sure what mechanism drove the Trade Winds to strengthen or lessen.
Today, I would reverse the title and write it as “The ENSO Drives the Trade Winds”.
It is the general temperature of the equatorial Pacific, itself, which determines where the air is rising the most, where the convection clouds are developing and how strong and where the Trade Winds are blowing.
When the equatorial Pacific is relatively cool, little air is rising, no clouds are devloping in the Pacific. The convection and the clouds are developing in Indonesia. The Winds pick up and blow right across the Pacific to replace the rising air there.
When the equatorial Pacific is relatively warmer, most of the tropical convection occurs at the International Date Line and in Nino 3.4. The winds are then low (it is mostly rising) and might even blow from Indonesia toward the warmer area in the central Pacific and drag the Pacific Warm Pool water along with it.
It is the equatorial subsurface and surface circulation of warmer or cooler water that drives this whole system. It is both self-reinforcing to a certain point and then it becomes self-limiting. Cool will increase the Trade Winds and cause even cooler water to well-up. The warmth of an El Nino will eventually escape to space and cooler water will eventually warm up from the Sun and the lack of cloud.
The ENSO, itself, drives the system and it is self-reinforcing up to a certain point and then becomes self-limiting awaiting the arrival of the next tranche of cooler or warmer water from the subsurface circulation, which alternating cool then warm and so on.

gary gulrud

“a new type of sunspot that has emerged over the past 2 months that has a polarity reversing tendency actually reduces F10.7 Flux & EUV.”
!?! 2008 bequeathed 3 all-time evening lows on us, already a few fall like days have interrupted summer.

Mike Haseler

Patrick Davis says:
Sort of a ~100 year event … for Aus
I love these “unusual events”.
There are around 200 countries in the world. There are many different meteorological measurements of which: Temperature, rain, wind are the most common.
Counting all the “driest” and “wettest,” hottest/coldest, windiest, becalmed as possible “extremes”, there are some 1200 “extremes-country” events each year.
If as the Met Office do, you also subdivide the year into four quarters, then there are some 4800 possible extreme events each year.
If these were all independent (which they aren’t), then there would be some 12 to 48 extreme “100 year” events each year.
The real question of interest is why we have so few extreme events? The answer is that only a few places have the kind of hotels that journalists like to visit.

Enneagram

If during La Niña the seas save heat for the Niños to spend, then this La Niña will do it poorly as her salary from the Sun has lowered, so feebler el niños or more la niña are to be expected. Is this so?

jorgekafkazar & Juraj V.: Google “initiate el nino” in quotes and there are 152 results.
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=com.microsoft%3Aen-us&q=%22initiate+el+nino%22&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=
Scanning the first page, very few of the initiators are the same.

Enneagram

BTW, How do you expect the weather to be for the next Global Gobernance (A.K.A. Climate Change, Global Warming) jamboree at Cancun in november?

rbateman

Geoff Sharp says:
August 31, 2010 at 6:13 am
Very observant of you, Geoff. This new type of sunspot is par for the course for SC24, the renegade cycle. I’ll have to look through my composite EUV w/sunspot overlays to see what else they are doing.

Stephen Wilde

Thanks Bob and Bill.
On balance I think I’ll go with Bill and hold to my opinion that as Bill says:
“It is the general temperature of the equatorial Pacific, itself, which determines where the air is rising the most, where the convection clouds are developing and how strong and where the Trade Winds are blowing. ”
Bob, in your earlier post this what you said:
“During a La Niña, the trade winds in the tropical Pacific renew and strengthen (they had weakened and reversed during the El Niño)”
which I paraphrased as :
“I see that you take the view that the El Nino with it’s higher SSTs weakens the Trade Winds and the La Nina with it’s lower SSTs strengthens them.”
Nonetheless I note your opinion that one cannot tease out the chicken and egg problem. I beg to differ. The thermal energy of water is so much greater than that of air that as a basic first principle the initiator of any new trend in any coupled ocean air interaction must always be the ocean.
I don’t need data to assert that additional energy released by a larger or more intense area of warmer ocean surface is bound to create a larger overlying warmed air mass than would be created by a cooler ocean surface.
Similarly a larger area of snow cover or a colder landmass will create a larger overlying cooled air mass than a smaller area of snow cover.
Sometimes a grip on basic first principles is good enough especially when as here no one has ever measured the total size of the tropical air masses as they respond to changes in SSTs.
The distance between the sub tropical high pressure cells in each hemisphere might be a good proxy but who has ever checked that out ?

rbateman

Enneagram says:
August 31, 2010 at 9:23 am
All that has to happen is for the atmosphere to be acted upon to increase/decrease the albedo of Earth, then the Solar Energy need not change much for the Nina/Nino oscillation to move to a higher/lower baseline. GCR’s, ACR’s and Negative Sunspots afflicting EUV would fit this requirement I suppose.

peterhodges

well we had snow over the weekend and ice on the car window this morning.
in california. (allright, i do live at 7600 ft 😉
regarding the aussie winter, check this out:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/7904234/Mad-Max-film-delay-as-landscape-too-green.html
brought me to tears! i just hope it hits the theatres before the world ends in 2012.

Zeke

Geoff Sharp writes: “Now for the big news. I can only compare the EUV readings at this stage for 1084, but the EUV reading followed the trend of F10.7 Flux….For the first time we have observed sunspot activity that reduces the F10.7 Flux and EUV. Currently EUV is being investigated as a driver in our climate system. This discovery could help explain the link between grand minima and a cooling planet.”
People need to know that it could get cooler. Overpriced energy in a time like this is an extremely bad idea!